Sour Widows was formed in 2017 by Maia Sinaiko, Susanna Thomson and Max Edelman. After releasing 2021’s critically acclaimed Crossing Over EP, Bay Area trio Sour Widows return with “Witness”, a sprawling new track, produced by Maryam Qudus (Toro y Moi, SASAMI), that cycles the listener through various shades of grief.
The intuitive and empathetic writing process behind “Witness” is representative of the band’s creative approach for their forthcoming debut full-length album.
“This is the first song we finished since I lost my mom in June 2021,” says Susanna Thomson of the song’s origins. “When we started playing together again last fall after being on hiatus for several months because of my mom’s illness, I was feeling easily overwhelmed by most things, and playing and writing were very difficult. Returning to this existing instrumental we had written together before everything in my life changed felt comforting and supportive. Monumental loss creates a very clear divide between those in your life who can understand the depth of that kind of pain and those who can’t. ‘Witness’ speaks to that experience.”
Spacemoth – the project of Bay Area-based and Afghan-American artist, producer, engineer, and musician Maryam Qudus – will release her debut album No Past No Future later this month on July 22nd via Sadie Dupuis’ label Wax Nine via Carpark Records. Qudus, who has made a name for herself collaborating with the likes of Toro y Moi, Tune-Yards, Sasami, Sad13, and more, has already shared the incredible tracks “Pipe and Pistol,” “This Shit” and “Waves Come Crashing” off of the forthcoming album, and today she shares another single. Out today is “Round In Loops,” alongside a video co-directed by Maryam with her brother Dean Qudus that is an homage to the classic Maxell “Hi Fidelity’ ad from 1983.
“I often start a song by creating tape loops and layering different sounds together to create a bed of abstraction to build upon,” Qudus explains. “In ‘Round In Loops,’ I wanted to connect the loops in the song with the cyclical patterns we endure both in our minds and in our lives.”
Spacemoth – the project of Bay Area-based and Afghan-American artist, producer, engineer, and musician Maryam Qudus – recently announced her debut album No Past No Future out July 22nd via Sadie Dupuis’ label Wax Nine via Carpark Records. Qudus, who has made a name for herself collaborating with the likes of Toro y Moi, Tune-Yards, Sasami, Sad13, and more, has already shared two incredible tracks “Pipe and Pistol” and “This Shit” off of the forthcoming album, and today she shares another single. Out today is “Waves Come Crashing,” a whirlwind of noise that leads into darker, bass-heavy instrumentation as Qudus confronts the inevitability of death, and explores the most difficult part of falling in love: the fear of losing the person you love. The song is out alongside a kaleidoscopic video, which Qudus co-directed with Kimber-Lee Alston, and navigates love and loss through swirls of saturated prismatic patterns.
“‘Waves Come Crashing’ was written during a period when I was haunted by the idea of losing my partner,” Qudus explains of the track. “I would lay awake at night and all I could think of was what if something happens to them tomorrow? While I was unable to shake these thoughts, I slowly realized my time spent worrying about loss was consuming the time we have together.”
Spacemoth – a.k.a. Bay Area-based artist, performer and composer Maryam Qudus – announces that she’s signed to Sadie Dupuis’ label Wax Nine via Carpark Records, and will release her debut album No Past No Future on July 22nd. As a first-generation Afghan-American child of working-class immigrant parents, finding a place in music was nothing short of a challenge for Qudus. “Women are often discouraged from pursuing music in the Afghan & Muslim community, and those who follow that path receive a lot of heat,” she explains. Qudus has spent years building a reputation as a sought-after producer and studio engineer, collaborating with the likes of Toro y Moi, Tune-Yards, Sasami, Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz, and more, and working at San Francisco’s Women’s Audio Mission and the iconic Tiny Telephone Recording. Aside from her prominent work producing and engineering the sonic explorations of her peers, Qudus has also masterfully constructed her own vision with the psychedelic space-pop of Spacemoth.
Today Spacemoth shares the double single “Pipe and Pistol” and the previously released “This Shit.” On “Pipe and Pistol,” Qudus explores the experience of being an immigrant starting over in America. The song showcases punchy rhythms, reminiscent of Devo’s post-punk dynamism: “I see your face / my powers, they raise,” she sings with potency.
On the track, Qudus says, “‘Pipe and Pistol’ revolves around a wobbly synth and distorted drum loop, played with and processed by a Korg MS-20. The song was inspired by my parents, who immigrated from Afghanistan in the late 70’s and explores the challenges faced when building a new life in America. Interweaving colorful psychedelic visuals and blue collar employment, Ambar Navarro’s video for ‘Pipe and Pistol’ speaks to the surreal and confusing experience of navigating a new life in America in the late 1970’s.”
Sadie Dupuis is a magician of creativity. She fronts two bands, runs her own record label, released a book of poetry, and has established a poetry journal. She is known as much for her poetry and her music. On Friday September 25 she is releasing Sad13’s sophomore album Haunted Painting. The album includes guests Roberto Lange, Satomi Matsuzaki, Merrill Garbus and Rick Maguire. It was recorded and mixed in 6 studios with a host of women engineers. You’ve already seen the singles including “Hysterical”, “Oops…!”, “Ruby Wand” and “Ghost (of a Good Time)”,
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Haunted Painting?
SD: Not getting to play it live for the indefinite future, probably. A lot of pent up energy in making these complicated arrangements and not getting to show them off IRL!
FEMMUSIC: Haunted Painting is your first record with Wax Nine. What made you decide to work with them? How was the experience?
SD: Wax Nine is my own record label, an imprint with Carpark. I’ve been lucky to release albums by two of my favorites artists–Johanna Warren and Melkbelly–on the label, as well as co-release a compilation tribute to Adam Schlesinger with Father/Daughter Records earlier this year. We also launched a literary journal earlier this year which runs bi-weekly and features new poems and illustrations every issue.
FEMMUSIC: I was intrigued your choice to use women engineers on the album. Can you tell me what you were looking for in engineers? What made these 6 (Sarah Tudzin, Erin Tonkon, Maryam Qudus, Lily Wen, Anne Gauthier & Emily Lazar) stand out?
SD: Emily Lazar is a long-term collaborator for me; she’s mastered most of my records as well as some of my favorite artists, everyone from Beck to Dolly Parton. I hosted a panel for Sonos and She Shreds in 2018 on audio engineering, featuring Emily and three other amazing women in different corners of production. We are drastically underrepresented in music technology, comprising about 2% of engineers, and as a producer myself, it felt strange and hypocritical that I’d only hired men as tracking and mix engineers in the past.
Most of the engineers I hired on this record were friends, or friends of friends–I was a big admirer of Illuminati Hotties, Sarah Tudzin’s band, and Lily Wen I have known for 15 years. Erin Tonkon has produced heavy hitters like David Bowie, but also more contemporary bands I love, like Pixx and Lady Lamb. Maryam Qudus worked with several friends–Allison Crutchfield, Madeleine Kenney–and also fronts her own amazing project called Spacemoth. And I met Anne Gauthier on tour in Louisville, when Speedy got to check out her amazing studio La La Land. All are brilliant producers and people who I’d recommend to anyone and hope I’ll work with again once it’s safe.
FEMMUSIC: You recorded the album in-between touring with Speedy Ortiz and the Mouthguard book tour. After that constant frenzy how has not touring during COVID affected you? What do you miss? What has changed for you during it, both positive and negative?
SD: It’s strange adjusting to so many nights in a row at home! One of the best parts of tour is having a chance to see or play with faraway friends a couple times a year, and I really miss that. But one positive is that I have a lot more time to dedicate to projects that aren’t strictly my own, like the Adam Schlesinger compilation, the poetry journal, recording on some friends’ projects, as well as the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers, which began work a few months ago.
FEMMUSIC: What was your vision with Haunted Painting? What was your favorite part of the arrangements?
SD: Since I recorded in five different studios and mixed in a sixth, I wanted to make good use of each place’s unique gear lists. Each song was arranged to include all the most interesting equipment at each studio. Trying to write specifically to a location (and to instruments I’m less familiar with writing for, like strings, woodwinds, lap steel, theremin) was a fun challenge.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? Is it different from your poetry writing technique? Where do the 2 merge or separate?
SD: In composing music, I usually have a chord progression in mind. I demo drums and bass before anything else, then add synth parts, finally guitars, vocals last. So I’m trying to write the lyrics to fit on top of a mostly arranged song. Poetry I’m generally starting from scratch without any guidelines, especially not the built in constraints of trying to fit syllables to music.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
SD: I have thought about ‘The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’ theme song almost every morning upon waking for like a decade, so unfortunately, I have to answer with that. I can’t wake up and not think of it. I hope to be free some day.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
SD: I don’t think misogyny is a challenge for any one person to “overcome” individually, especially if you are on the receiving end of it, but making sure to use whatever hiring power I have–crew on tour, opening bands–to make my corner of the industry more inclusive and representative of diverse music workers has been a priority for me, and makes touring a lot easier and happier.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
SD: There are a couple 2020 records I’m obsessed with – Ganser, Kitty, Yaeji, Backxwash, Yves Tumor, No Joy, Katie Dey, Allie X, Caroline Rose. I’d be over the moon to play or tour with any of those projects.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
SD: Be cool for artists to actually make money off the streaming services that earn billions thanks to our work!